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The Willy Wonka of Food Show Comes to Pinecrest Gardens

By Nycole Sariol

In 2012, Mario Pi started a movement in Chicago called Fine Food Show – a culinary combustion of local up-and-comers and classic old-timers all giving praise to the their trade and the main ingredient that comprises it – food.

Miami soon got jealous and wanted in on this chocolate jubilation, flowing with first class wines and spicy smoke procuring the air. Problem solved. Mario and his carefully selected, local 305 restaurants decided to bestow the general populous of Miami with a weekend-long “world of pure imagination” at the Pinecrest Gardens.

Last week, 70 food and beverage vendors amalgamated together to pleasure us with sweet confections, salty carb-inducers, and a river of wines and liquors. In addition to the Chicago set-up, Pi introduced “The Miami Smoke Affair,” to its impressive roster. The affair to remember, dedicated to the cigar aficionado at heart, was sponsored by Cigar Cellar & Lounge and played host to 15 brands including Gurka and My Father Cigars. The guests were relished with exclusivities like complimentary valet, a swag bag full of goodies, and an unlimited open bar.

James Beard award-winning Chef Allen Susser played teacher for the day to give all aspiring chocolatiers a 101 tasting demonstration called ‘A Bean-to-Bar Chocolatier’ in which the chef explains the harvest, fermentation, and drying of the cocoa bean turned chocolate process.

But perhaps the highlight of the event was the line-up at Restaurant Row. The elongated expanse served as a culinary sidewalk of multi-ethnic restaurants, all representing its homeland with pride. Although all booths were equally tasty, there were those who ascended slightly higher than the rest. To assuage the saltier side of your tongue, Jimmy’s Kitchen and his mofongo-making crew caught our olfactory and salivary senses by surprise with their delicious balls of mofongo – a Puerto Rican postulation of mashed plantains – atop a bed of shredded lechon or ripped up chicken floating in a sea of red sofrito. For the sweet-tooth palettes, the boys over at Mr. PB&J, brought us back to the most affinitive place of nostalgia with their bespoke PB&J grilled sandwiches.

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Mr. PB&J grilled sandwiches

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Jimmy’s Kitchen Mofongo

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